E3 2016: Settling in with Civilization VI

Have you ever wanted to lose 500 hours of your life while reshaping the course of history? Look no further than the now 25-year-old Civilization franchise, where you take the role of a historic civilization and play against other player and non-player civilizations from the dawn of time through the modern age and into the future, if you can survive that long.  The latest iteration of this turn-based strategy game, Civilization VI, was announced earlier this year, and looks to build upon the franchise with a bit of a different and refreshing approach from its 2010 predecessor.

Lead designer Ed Beach started development of Civilization VI right after the release of the last Civilization V expansion, and probably the biggest and most interesting update to the game is the un-stacking of the cities. Each city now spans multiple tiles and you can customize them to take advantage of the terrain you’ve settled on, for example if you’ve settled near a desert you can unlock pyramids.  As you won’t be building everything right onto the main city tile itself you’ll need to decide where to build various structures inside your city “districts”. There are 12 possible districts to build, like campuses and holy sites, but you cannot have all 12 in a city so this will lead to city specialization to help tailor your civilization the way you prefer to play.


All this may seem overwhelming at first but with various tool-tips and other informational pop-ups, the game can guide you into making the best choices for your civilization by laying out what bonuses will come to your city if you build a certain district in one tile instead of another. As a result of the bonuses you unlock you will notice that not every civilization will advance the same way, unlocking boosts to speed your progress through history through exploration, developing the environment, and discovering new cultures as you go.  Trade routes have much more importance this time now as well, as all roads will be built through traders early on, but can be changed later in your civilization’s advancement by unlocking units like military engineers, etc.  Aesthetically speaking, the game will also contain day/night cycles, which will become quite apparent when your civilization has invented electricity as your buildings start lighting up at night.

In terms of combat, the un-stacking of cities will mean when your city is attacked you won’t necessarily lose your city outright, but your districts could be pummeled in the frey, and as you lose more districts your cities power will decrease. In addition to the un-stacking of cities is the stacking of units, where units can be combined with other units now, so you can set up warriors to walk with settlers and protect them early on, or combine several like-units can form a large “corps” unit.


There will be 18 civilizations at launch including some brand new ones to the franchise which have yet to be announced.  So far we know that America, Egypt, China, and Japan will be in the game, with Teddy Roosevelt leading America and Cleopatra leading Egypt. This time, each leader will have a specific diplomatic agenda they will follow from history, tailoring how they will play the game against you. For example, Cleopatra likes to ally with strong leaders so she may try to align herself with you if you have a large military or attack you if you don’t.  Interactions with other civilizations will change over time as well, with primitives being more apt to attack, but the more cultured will prefer negotiations.

Civilization is set to release on Steam on October 21, 2016, and I for one can’t wait to lose more hours to the gods and kings of our brave new world.